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Hull ‘strongly suggested’ Blues stop post-goal Conga line

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Brett Hull was arguably the greatest sniper in Blues history, scoring over 500 goals.

But in a weird twist, he’s now behind the decision to stop celebrating them.

Hull, the Blues’ executive vice-president, said in a Thursday live chat on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch website that he — along with ex-Blues Kelly Chase and Keith Tkachuk — “strongly suggested” the team stop doing the Conga line fist-pound after scoring.

“We strongly suggested they acted [sic] like they’ve done it before,” Hull explained.

The decision to stop the celebration has flown under the radar, perhaps because the Blues only recently bailed on it.

For more, here’s Dan O’Neil from the Post-Dispatch on Oct. 31:

Perhaps you noticed during the last two games, wins over Nashville and Winnipeg. When the line of David Backes, Alexander Steen and T.J Oshie have been on the ice for Blues’ goals — and that has been the case on six occasions — there has been no skate to the bench for a Conga line of high-fives.

There has been the traditional raised arms, the traditional hugs and smiles among those involved. And there has been a return to positions for the drop of the puck. In short, the Blues act like they’ve been there before, and aspire to be there again.

“That came from a few gentlemen who used to play here,” Backes said. “They felt like the going through the line thing was a high school, college type of play.

“It’s one of those things where you didn’t really think about it. It’s just the way it was when we got here, the way it was in college, what we did in high school. I think this is a unique thing that maybe we can change the trend a little bit — score the goal, congratulate each other and let’s go do it again.”

Others have since taken notice, as Damien Cox of the Toronto Star recently praised the Blues for eschewing “one of the game’s dumber traditions.”

No changes planned to NHL’s concussion protocol

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The NHL has no plans to change its concussion protocol, even after Connor McDavid expressed shock at being removed from last night’s game in Edmonton.

“We have no intention of changing the standards that are employed based on the situation in the game or season,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told TSN.ca today.

McDavid was pulled from yesterday’s Oilers-Wild game with just over six minutes left in the second period. At the time, the game was tied at one and the Oilers were on the power play, seconds away from enjoying a brief 5-on-3 man advantage.

It was an NHL spotter who made the call to have McDavid pulled from the game, much to the 19-year-old’s chagrin.

“I hit my mouth on the ice,” McDavid said afterwards. “You reach up and grab your mouth when you get hit in the mouth. I think that’s a pretty normal thing. Obviously the spotter knew how I was feeling.

“Sh***y time of the game, too, I guess. It’s a little bit of a partial five-on-three and a power play late in the second period where if you capitalize, it could change the game.”

McDavid eventually returned and played 20:38 on the night, but the Oilers lost, 2-1, in overtime.

Though Daly conceded the NHL’s concussion rules remain “a work in progress,” he said the league is “comfortable with how the new protocol is working” and that it’s “always better to err on the side of caution.”

Related: NHL adding more concussion spotters this season

Pre-game reading: What’s the Penguins’ plan for Pouliot?

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— Up top, a good scrap between Anaheim’s Kevin Bieksa and Calgary’s Micheal Ferland. Those two have a history dating back to the 2015 playoff series between the Canucks and Flames.

— What’s the Pittsburgh Penguins’ plan for Derrick Pouliot? That’s a good question, seeing as Pouliot was the eighth overall draft pick in 2012 and he’s only played one game for the Pens this season. Pouliot says he’s not hurt anymore, which seems worth mentioning seeing as he’s still on injured reserve. His coach, Mike Sullivan, says this: “He’s a very good young player, and it’s our responsibility to try and help him continue to grow and develop. … Part of that is obviously he has to play games. He has to get in some games here. We’ll work to do that.” (Post-Gazette)

— It’s getting down to crunch time for the NHL to make a decision on the 2018 Winter Olympics. Their CBA-related offer to the players has reportedly been rejected. To which the National Post’s Scott Stinson argues: Come on, NHL, you gotta be there. “Having the best hockey players in the world showcased at the world’s biggest sporting event, in a tournament that offers the best version of the game, an embarrassment of speed and skill, is a clear advertisement for the merits of the world’s best hockey league, even if the NHL shield is not formally a part of the proceedings.” (National Post)

— Bob McKenzie shares the story of Jack Han, who came to Canada from China as a youngster and is now on the coaching staff of McGill’s women’s hockey team. Han doesn’t have a traditional hockey background, but he’s learning how to use analytics and video to carve out his own niche. (TSN)

— Now that Brent Burns has signed, who are the top pending UFAs that could be had on July 1? Ben Bishop and Kevin Shattenkirk top Sportsnet’s list, but don’t sleep on T.J. Oshie, because the Capitals will need to get creative to keep him — especially with Evgeny Kuznetsov requiring a new deal. (Sportsnet)

— Nobody’s paying big bucks to watch the Vancouver Canucks anymore, with local ticket brokers reporting the lowest interest in decades. That’s mostly because the team isn’t very good anymore. But it’s also because there’s no young superstar like Connor McDavid, Johnny Gaudreau, Patrik Laine or Auston Matthews to watch on a regular basis. That’s what other teams across Canada have to sell. And it’s selling well in those places. (The Province)

Enjoy the games!

Chara ‘more than likely’ to return from six-game absence tonight

SUNRISE, FL - MARCH 7: Zdeno Chara #33 of the Boston Bruins skates towards the face-off circle during first period action against the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center on March 7, 2016 in Sunrise, Florida. The Bruins defeated the Panthers 5-4 in overtime. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
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Bruins captain Zdeno Chara hasn’t been in the lineup since Nov. 22, but that all changes tonight when he returns for a key date against the Panthers at TD Garden.

B’s head coach Claude Julien called it “more than likely probable” (per NHL.com) that Chara will play for the first time since sustaining a lower-body injury six games ago. It’s a huge addition for a Boston defense that has been without its veteran leader and fellow vet John-Michael Liles, who is currently sidelined with a concussion.

As a result of those two injuries, Julien has been rolling with a six-man defensive unit comprised of Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Brandon Carlo, Joe Morrow and Colin Miller.

Krug saw an upward spike in minutes as a result, and it helped him get his season on track offensively — he has seven points in his last eight games, this after going scoreless through the first nine contests of the year.

Carlo has been receiving big minutes as well. The rookie blueliner played over 24 minutes in back-to-back games against the Flyers and Lightning last week, then had 23:33 in Saturday’s win over Buffalo.

Chara had been averaging just under 23 minutes per prior to getting hurt, so it’s safe to assume Krug and Carlo will go back to more conventional TOI tonight.

Goalie nods: ‘He’s here, he’s able to play, he plays’ — Sens welcome Anderson back versus Pens

DALLAS, TX - NOVEMBER 24:  Craig Anderson #41 of the Ottawa Senators celebrates with Erik Karlsson #65 of the Ottawa Senators after the Senators scored against the Dallas Stars in the third period at American Airlines Center on November 24, 2015 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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Craig Anderson, who left the Sens on Nov. 30 to be with his wife while she undergoes cancer treatment, returned to the club ahead of tonight’s game in Pittsburgh.

And even though Anderson’s backup, Mike Condon, is coming off a 24-save shutout of Florida, there was apparently no question about which goalie would face the Pens.

“He’s here,” Sens head coach Guy Boucher said of Anderson, per the club’s Twitter account. “He’s able to play, he plays.”

Anderson has been terrific this season, posting a 12-5-1 record with a .930 save percentage and 2.20 GAA. He was especially dialed in over his last five starts prior to departing, stopping 143 of 153 shots (a .935 save percentage, which “ballooned” mostly due to his final game, a 5-4 loss to Buffalo).

Condon, who had a brief stint in Pittsburgh this season before getting dealt to Ottawa, has performed admirably as well. He’s posted a pair of shutouts and boasts an impressive .946 save percentage on the year. That effort, combined with Anderson’s rock-solid play, has made Andrew Hammond the odd man out in Ottawa (The Hamburglar was reassigned to AHL Binghamton today).

Marc-Andre Fleury will get the nod for Pittsburgh. He’s riding a bit of a hot streak, having stopped 61 of his last 65 shots faced in consecutive victories.

Elsewhere…

— Good matchup in Boston, as Tuukka Rask and the B’s host Roberto Luongo and the Panthers. Rask currently sits third in the NHL with a .941 save percentage, while Luongo is 12th at .929.

Robin Lehner, who returned from a one-game absence to make 31 saves in a loss to Boston on Saturday, starts for the Sabres. The host Capitals will once again turn to their workhorse, Braden Holtby, who looks to snap a three-game losing streak.

— After Mike Smith made a career-high 58 saves in a shootout loss to the Jackets on Saturday, Louis Domingue gives him a breather as the two teams meet again tonight. Sergei Bobrovsky will be in for the Jackets, after Curtis McElhinney got the win over the weekend.